Idea, design and composition

We agreed that design and composition are the hallmarks of photography .. and without them you end up with record photos or worthless photos.

I think that we tend to confuse three things .. ideas, design and composition .. where idea is the story, design is how to tell it, while composition is how to tell it well ..

So I have an idea .. I may be reading about the artistic effects of using perspective, driving across the country and see a scene that stops me, or I want to do a study about poverty .. the list is endless, from the mundane to the abstract .. I would then have to design how to tell the story .. still life, street photography, studio work, and so on .. and based on this choice I would choose my equipment .. and the last bit would be the composition .. i.e. shooting the scene using the equipment and technique most suitable ..

So for example .. the other day I wanted to photograph a historic site, that is always full of people, especially at the time of the day when the light was most appropriate for photographing it. I wanted an angled frontal shot with perspective that would show the glory and tell the story of the place, with no or very few or blurred people .. I decided to shoot just before sunset (site front is west facing), using long shutter speeds to ghost out the moving people (I needed a -8 or more ND filter), a tripod, and a shutter release. I set my tripod and camera at a place where I could get these angled frontal shots with perspective, using a wide angle lens. I took some shots on a clear day, with hard low sunlight, producing some harsh shadows. I also shot others on an overcast day, with diffuse light and little or no shadows. I used different shutter speeds and apertures to get as many shots as I can, so I can later choose the best ones .. Some shots (20-30 seconds) showed no people (completely ghosted out) and others had people in slow motion.

Studying what I did carefully you realise that the first step was the idea: photographing the site front, angled and with a perspective (ideally without people, few people, or blurred people) .. then the design: long stutter speed with ND filters and tripod and a wide angle .. then the composition: frontal with perspective using a wide angle lens and different shooting angles and positions, and different shutter speeds and apertures .. At the end of the day I chose only one photograph that I felt was good and fulfilled my idea and vision .. it was what I saw in my mind to start with, and was then physically produced, for me and others to see ..

So have a story, decide how to tell it, and tell it well .. Idea, design and composition

That’s how you make a good photo


How to use a Tripod

This may sound daft .. everybody knows how to use a tripod of course ..

What I meant was how to really get yourself to use a tripod in practice ..

I have 3 tripods and a monopod .. they have different heads, although I am more into ball-socket heads these days ..

My problem was not using them indoors but carrying them about in travel

I therefore decided to go for a travel tripod of good make that is lightweight and carries up to 2-3kg of gear .. and believe me there are a few out there .. plus buy a new gear bag with a tripod attachment

When I came across the Cullmann Nanomax 230 T with CB 6.1 I thought it will probably be a small useless tripod, but decided after reading its reviews to try it out.

I was in for a real surprise .. here was a very sturdy travel tripod .. very modern look and build .. carried my Nikon D7000 + 18-300mm VR lens easily .. Max height 103cm, Min height 23cm , most important – Packed dimension 30cm, Height with central column down 85cm, Max. tripod leg 20mm, Carrying capacity 3kg, Weight 790 g. Very versatile legs, head and central column and many accessories available. I would have given it 5 stars if it came with the Cullmann Cross Ballhead CB7.3 with CX440 (quick release base) which I bought separately and which is a must for this tripod unless you are prepared to keep screwing and unscrewing the tripod from the camera using the standard CB 6.1 head.

I also bought the Lowepro Pro Runner 300AW Photo Backpack that has a tripod attachement ..

So now I have a tripod that I actually use !